Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Artas - Riotology (2011)

I wasn't impressed by the Artas debut The Healing in 2008, but it was at least a competent exercise of modern death/thrash which probably leans a little bit in the 'melodeath' territory so prevalent in Sweden and Finland. Riotology boasts all the merits of that album, with the huge, clean production values and punchy if average riffs, and a rather enormous track list (about 16 tracks to the prior effort's 13), but it also falls short to many of the same flaws, and fails to distinguish itself among such a huge crowd of peers. To be blunt, there is nothing here you can't already get listening to Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, or any of a dozen other big names in this field.

No matter how huge, or dense the mix of the guitars is, the riffs being performed here all sound like they took mere moments to conceive. Tracks like "Fortress of No Hope" and "The Day the Books Will Burn Again" are choke with pedestrian, derivative groove riffs that have nothing to stand on other than the substantial foundation of the recording. There is very little musicality, each song seems to consist of a bludgeoning riff or two that transitions into the radio friendly clean vocal chorus that bands like In Flames, Soilwork and so forth built their careers on in the late 90s and the dawn of the 21st century, with a dash of that aggressive Pantera tough guy emotion. What's even stranger, the band starts to cycle through individual languages in the titles and lyrics of "Rassenhass", "No Pasaran", "Gipfelstürmer", and "Le Saboteur", in some crass attempt at diversifying themselves, but nothing sticks, nor do the hammy clean guitar/vocal pieces called "O5".

I'm not always opposed to modern groove metal elements if they're memorably written (like The Defaced from Sweden), but I swear I could not remember a note of this once I was finished listening through. Aside from the fact that there are songs in different languages, there is nothing but a mix of stock, phoned in riffs sauteed in massive studio sound, and flat falling emotional moments void of aspiration. Riotology doesn't even seem to hit the same mark as its predecessor, The Healing, which featured a cover of "Gangsta's Paradise" of all things. This sophomore, seems to exist on its own puerile testosterone, fleet and fading quickly, nearly 70 minutes of bludgeoning, refractory waste.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]


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